The Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye was built in honour of the birth of Ivan the Terrible and represents a daring break from the usual church architecture.
The Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye is the oldest surviving building in the former Tsarist residence in south-eastern Moscow. It was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1994 and is also on our list of the Top 10 Sights of Russia.
Kolomenskoye was a favourite summer residence of Russian rulers to the south-east of Moscow city centre. The Church of the Resurrection or the Ascension in Kolomenskoye was built in 1532 by Grand Prince Vasily III Ivanovich. Ivanovich in honour of the birth of his long-awaited heir to the throne.
This heir to the throne was the inhuman Ivan IV. Vasilyevich, who would later become known as "Ivan the Terrible". He was the first Grand Prince of Moscow to be crowned Tsar of Russia, ruling over the entire empire.
Some characteristics indicate that the Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye was built by Italian architects, but their names are no longer known.
Exciting Russian church architecture
At first glance, the Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye is different from the other Russian churches. Here, for the first time, the traditional Byzantine church architecture was broken. Instead of onion domes and colourful facades, the Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye appears in pure white limestone and is dominated by a 62-metre-high, tent-shaped tower.
Researchers assume that the pointed shape of the tower was adopted from the wooden churches in northern Russia. It is certain that this stone roof shape was used for the first time in the world at the Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye.
The low ground floor with its cruciform ground plan, unusual at the time, ducks down to the foot of the massive tower with its 3 to 4 metre thick walls. Under the so-called "white column", the actual church room recedes into the background for the observer. The impression of a column is reinforced by the high pilasters, the round arches in the façade and the long narrow windows.
The tower is enclosed by an open gallery, which can be reached via an extensive staircase. During the time of the Grand Princes of Moscow, only members of the ruling family were allowed to enter the sacred building.
When the time of the tsars was over in Russia, according to church tradition, a miraculous image of a saint appeared in the Church of the Resurrection in Kolomenskoye in March 1917. The so-called "Image of the Sovereign Mother of God" is still venerated by Russian Orthodox Christians today.